What Great Bosses Know

Aug 6, 2012

Jill Geisler became a TV news director at the age of 27. She didn't know a whole lot about managing people, and she learned by trial and error.

"When I was a baby manager, I thought I could compliment everyone into high performance," Geisler told KPLU. "So when I had to sit down with people about under-performance, they didn't know why this suddenly came out of the blue when all they'd been hearing about was how well they had done."

But Geisler liked management so much, she became a leadership trainer, and she’s just written a book on how to inspire and motivate staff. It's called Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know.

In it, Geisler gives tips on how managers should give feedback, and how bosses can elicit feedback from their staff. (Here's a suggestion, ask: "Is there anything you need more of - or less of - from me?") She lays out strategies for how to manage different personality types and how to become a better coach. And she emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence - something she says can be learned with practice.

"There's a lot of literature now about the neuroplasticity of our brains," Geisler said. "You can practice to become better at listening, for example. It takes a conscious effort to put your desire to speak in pause mode and let some things hang in the air, for example, without finishing a sentence for someone or interrupting or correcting them."

A lot of what Geisler emphasizes sound like basic common courtesy - being considerate, giving praise where praise is due. But she says being a good boss requires much more than just being a nice person.

"I know nice bosses who aren't effective because they're too nice," Geisler said. "You have to know how to have a baseline of social capital with people so that when you do have to put the hammer down, they'll understand it's for their own good and for the good of the organization."